When you feel the need to clear out the cobwebs of the mind, there can be no better way to do this than to take the circular walk from Buffels Bay, Cape Point Nature Reserve, up the hill and head south at the yellow footprints. Don’t be confused by the fact that the footprints face the other way – most people hike one way from Rooikrans to the Info Centre, but we always make a circular walk, ensuring that the hard work is done at the beginning to get maximum enjoyment from this scenic route.
With a little bit of shelter from a freshening southeaster, we were soon at the top of the hill and winding along the fynbos-lined track over the plateau, making numerous stops to take in the views up and down the Peninsula of glittering seas bursting against rocky shores and gulls soaring overhead as they indulged in their favourite pastime of hovering with the wind beneath their wings and no particular destination. A strongly flowing stream crossed the path, a sign that the ground is saturated from last year’s good rains and the fynbos is dense and healthy. Hats blew off and tiny flowers quivered in the breeze, but the temperature was perfect and the company congenial. This trail must rank as one of the easiest and most pleasant in the Reserve, and the descent to the seashore was a sandy downhill that brought back childhood memories of running down sand dunes with abandon. I almost broke into a run.
A pleasant half hour was spent on the rocks, watching the waves crash and splash, while terns, gulls and oystercatchers fished and flew by. A clamber over the rocky part of the trail just before the lawns of Buffels Bay gave us a cardio boost to make the exercise worthwhile, and we admired a small herd of eland in fine condition grazing higher up on the slopes. Apart from some young ostriches on the lawns, no other wildlife was evident.
Back at the cars, I produced a tub of granadillas to distribute, as the harvest from my vine is currently 15 a day for the last two weeks, with fruit ripening hourly. As hungry hikers clutched the purple passionfruit, of course three large baboons materialised from the undergrowth and bounded across to see what they could snatch. With baboons being a daily occurrence in my garden in Kommetjie at present, I should know better than to confront them, especially when one of us is holding food. A large baboon leapt into an open hatchback and, being fairly fearless, I advanced with teeth bared. The last thing to do! Feeling trapped in the car, he treated me to a clear view into his gaping maw, resplendent with yellowed fangs about two inches long and lurched towards me. Memory clicked in and I immediately turned my back on him, but he followed me and jumped up onto the roof of my car. It was a standoff! Knowing that baboons have no respect for women, it was a relief to see one of the men brandishing his hiking stick with some success, but three agile baboons are no match for a bunch of fruit-clutching females and everyone bundled into the cars without further delay.
It was with some relief that I drove away from my second-worst encounter with a wild animal, and I noted the many signs along the scenic route warning that baboons are dangerous wild animals and should not be fed. (The danger being that they don’t like to be trapped or be separated from their food. A further blog will follow on that.) I should have thought more carefully about the distribution of fruit at their prime raiding spot. Picnickers seldom get to eat alone at Buffels Bay.
Meanwhile, back in Kommetjie, several baboons had gained access to my neighbour’s house via the bathroom window on the upper floor. Chaos ensued and help was summoned to eject them. All in all, a bad day for baboon/human interaction. But a marvellous morning on the mountain!